Safilo good investment -Italy's Della Valle

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The Della Valle family's stake in Italian debt-laden eyewear maker Safilo is a good investment and the company could do great things with a local rival, Diego Della Valle said in a Saturday newspaper interview.

Italy's Della Valle family, behind luxury shoe maker Tod's , bought a 2.06 percent stake in the maker of Gucci sunglasses last month. The family also owns 40 percent in rival eyewear group Marcolin .

Safilo is a good investment, Della Valle told Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore. If you are asking me whether the two companies could do great things together, I answer yes, but of course we are only talking about Marcolin.

Safilo, hit by falling sales in the downturn, said in July talks with private equity funds had collapsed. [ID:nLR219302]

Analysts have said a Marcolin-Safilo alliance would be potentially good fit though would struggle without an injection of fresh capital. Safilo had net debt of 592.1 million euros ($873 million) at end-June and said it was focusing on its core business. The Tabacchi family has nearly 40 percent of the firm.

Tod's, known for its Italian-made loafers and handbags, has fared better than other luxury goods makers in the crisis.

... We are in a position to multiply turnover twice, three times in the next years, maintaining actual costs, he said.

Della Valle was realistically optimistic looking ahead. I am ... hoping a change in the consumer mood will come by the end of the year and that in between now and the first months of 2010, we will be able to see it in results and in numbers.

Italy's fashion sector has been hit hard by the crisis and has called for government help. Della Valle suggested abolishing tax on investments made to expand commercially in new markets to help small and medium-sized companies.

His family also owns a stake in U.S. department store Saks . When we entered the shareholding of the group ... the capitalization was prudent -- (it was) a good moment to enter with an important stake. ($1=.6782 Euro)

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